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The Solution to Religious Confusion
By David A. DePra
In a world where religious confusion abounds, it is easy to assume that it is impossible to know the real Truth about God. In fact, we don’t have to stray outside of Christianity to jump to that conclusion. It does not matter what subject we are talking about, or what Bible verse we are trying to understanding, there is disagreement. This is why we have denominations, church division, church splits, and great doubt among Christians as to whether it is possible to find the Truth. What has caused this, and what is the solution?
Unfortunately, it does no good to bring the Bible into the picture. The Bible is the inerrant Word of God, and anyone can read what it says. But the problem is never what the Bible says. The problem is what the Bible MEANS by what it says – or perhaps better said, the problem is what people SAY IT MEANS. God breathed out the Bible by His Holy Spirit, but by the time people are done processing the Word through their bias, faulty understanding, and religious agenda, the Bible is made to mean whatever pops out of those people at the end of that process. So we are back to the same problem.
Some think that the solution is to just study the Bible harder. So what we do is look to those people who have done so. We put aside our ability to understand the Word of God and rely upon those who have advanced degrees in theology and ministry. The trouble is, history has proven that this never works. Indeed, it is a sad fact that some seminaries today teach those enrolled more error than people generally slip into on their own. The reality is, if you get a degree in error, you might be well-versed in error, and be very good at teaching error. But error is never the Truth.
Part of the problem here, if not most of the problem, is that we think that Truth is INFORMATION. It is not. Truth is REVELATION – of a Person. But as long as we think that Truth is information, doctrines, facts, and Bible interpretations – all of which, by the way, are GOOD and RIGHT and NECESSARY – but as long as we think that these things are the essence of Truth, we will think the way to obtain it is through brain power and study. But again, history, not to mention the Bible itself, proves that we cannot find the Truth through brain power.
Of course, once I say that, there immediately arises a protest from those who do have degrees and who do have much brain power. Well, I have degrees and brain power, too. But I will promise you that absolutely NOTHING I know of Jesus Christ came to me because of those assets. Nothing. In fact, education, Bible knowledge, and brain power, if we don’t watch out, can possibly act as a hindrance to real Truth. Why? Because if I know lots of Bible verses and doctrinal information it is easy to think that this knowledge IS IT. There is a pride that comes from knowledge – "knowledge puffs up" – that makes us feel as if WE HAVE IT, and once that happens, we quit looking. Indeed, we will tend to resist any suggestion that what we think we have isn’t IT at all.
Bible knowledge and education are not evil things. In fact, we are told to, "study to show ourselves approved." But this is a far cry from studying because we think it MAKES us approved. No.
We need to understand that Christianity is not a list of teachings to believe in. It is CHRIST IN US – and all that this means as far as a living relationship. Our Bible knowledge cannot put Christ in us. But it serves it’s God intended purpose because the Bible teaches us how to invite Him to come into us, and it teaches us what that means, and how to live with Christ.
But back to the point at hand. There is a reason why there is so much confusion in the Body of Christ as far as the Truth is concerned. And there is a solution. But what is the ROOT reason, and the ROOT solution? If not study, then what?
The Holy Spirit
Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would guide us into all Truth. This was one of His primary promises prior to His death and resurrection, in anticipation of the day when the Spirit of God would be poured out in Acts 2. It is here that we must begin this discussion. For if Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would guide US into all Truth – and surely the US is His church – then this raises a big question: What has gone wrong? I mean, we don’t have much Truth out there. Thus, there are really only two possible answers: Either the Holy Spirit isn’t doing what Jesus said He would do, i.e., guide us into all Truth, or the Holy Spirit is seeking to guide us into all Truth, and the church in general isn’t following Him. I think it ought to be obvious that the second option must be the answer. The Holy Spirit has always sought to guide the church into all Truth – but the church, in general, is not responding.
Now, someone is bound to say that at least we do agree on the basic essentials – the identity of Christ, His virgin birth, His sinless life, death and resurrection, and His ascension. Well, to a degree that is true. But even on those points there is much variation. Furthermore, once we get away from those core essentials, things go in every direction possible. You cannot find agreement on hardly anything. There are major doctrinal disagreements on even the scope of the Redemption of Jesus Christ – whether he died for everyone, or only a chosen elect. People have huge differences of opinion on water baptism, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the rapture, the Second Coming, the millennium, the nature of justification and sanctification, and even the Trinity. Do we think that God is unconcerned about these things? I don’t. Some are more important than others, but we are talking about TRUTH.
There are many people who absolutely refuse to even address the issue of division over these matters. They refuse because they realize that almost no one who has made up their mind about any of these issues is likely to change his mind. So Christian leaders especially simply, "agree to disagree." Well, I suppose that is better than futile arguing and division, but nevertheless, if the Holy Spirit is seeking to guide us into all Truth, then the policy of, "agreeing to disagree," somehow seems irreverent to God. I mean, if the Holy Spirit is seeking to guide us into ALL Truth – how respectful is it to say that there is no use, as the Body of Christ, in pursuing the Truth?
But again – if I think that Truth is my understanding of doctrines, then everything will really come down to whether my understanding agrees with yours. And this is NEVER going to result in unity in the Truth. But if Truth is my knowledge of a Person – a Person who is seeking to reveal Himself to each of us – then unity in the Truth is possible. In fact, it is guaranteed if all would simply open themselves to the Holy Spirit.
So how do we do this? Words make it sound easy. But obviously, if Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would guide us into all Truth, God had something in mind that is a little better than the chaos we have seen over the last two thousand years.
The Life and the Light
The knowledge of the Truth is not a THING. It is a RELATIONSHIP. We all hold beliefs, and doctrines, in the form of information, to one degree or another. That is normal. But at the end of the day, everything goes back to knowing Jesus Christ, and back to our relationship with Him. And the fact is, you cannot know Him in the way that really equals knowing the Truth unless you discover Him through death and resurrection.
In order to know the Truth on any matter, there must come not only the revelation of the Truth, but the purging of error. Sure. This is why Jesus said, "You shall know the Truth and the Truth shall set you free." The two things always go together – if you see the Truth you will be set free from error. That ought to be obvious. But again – we are talking here about more than facts. We are talking about our knowledge of God. Thus, in order to know God, you must first receive revelation of God about Himself, and then you must pass through a process wherein that Truth is PROVEN as the Truth, and by default, all error falls by the wayside.
This is really what the TRIAL OF FAITH is all about. The trial of faith is not a matter of God trying to figure out if you have faith. No. The trial of faith begins when you discover something about God – even if what you discover is no more complicated than the fact that God is faithful. But how do you know that this really is a revelation? How do you know that it is the Truth, rather than some concept that you have conjured up in your own mind? Well, initially you don’t know. The only way to know is if what you believe is the Truth is subjected to testing and proving. Then the Truth is proven to BE the Truth, and the error is proven to BE error.
I said earlier that if we are left to ourselves and our understanding – our brain power – that we are going to come to hold as Truth whatever WE can produce by those assets. Some of this might be factually correct. But in the end, it will not be real Truth. Why? Because we are born with NO TRUTH IN US. Thus, what assets do we really have to work with in order to find the Truth? None. Left to ourselves, we will produce, "a truth," that suits us. One way or another that is what we will do. And if we are honest, right there we have our reason as to why there is so much division. Instead of the Holy Spirit guiding us into all Truth – and there is only ONE TRUTH -- we have produced our own Truth through brain power and have come up with varieties that suit our own agenda, denomination, or sense of right.
But you see, the trial of faith deals with that. If God gives you some Truth, and then puts you through a trial of faith, all of what you might have considered to be assets are going to prove worthless. You will find out that there is nothing IN YOU that can drag down Truth from heaven. You will find that, yes, there really is NO TRUTH IN YOU. You will find out that unless the Holy Spirit guides you into all Truth, you will NEVER find it. The trial of faith will prove the Truth is the Truth in the end, but in doing so, must deal with all of these things that we commonly use to find our own Truth.
There is a very real death and resurrection in all of this. I must die to my right to determine the Truth. Indeed, I must die to my right to own myself. But if I do, then I will discover, not Bible facts, and not information – no. I will discover Jesus Christ. And once I do, there will come an unfolding to me the meaning of the Bible and of doctrines. But I will know those things only because I know Him.
This is the principle of LIFE AND LIGHT, as I like to call it. What I mean by that is that if you die to everything you are – and this is a lifelong process – what emerges is a greater release of HIS LIFE in you. But that release of HIS LIFE in you carries LIGHT. As Christ is enlarged in you, you discover more of Him.
What I’m saying is this: There is no way to know Jesus Christ – to know the Truth – separate from surrender to Him. You cannot accumulate facts about Jesus, refuse or neglect to surrender to Him, and then proclaim that the Holy Spirit has led you into all Truth. No. You may have memorized doctrines, and you may have them down as far as facts. But what about the reality of Christ that is behind them. You cannot have the LIGHT without the LIFE, and you cannot have the LIFE until you pick up your Cross and DIE.
Thus, we have the reason why there is so much doctrinal confusion and disagreement – people are not carrying their cross. People are not DYING to themselves in order to LIVE in Him – and therefore there is no LIGHT because there is little LIFE.
If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. (Mat 16:24-25)
But you see, we have a better idea: "If any man would be my disciple, let him take up his doctorate degree in theology and follow Me." I think I’ve made my point, although I am certainly not naïve enough to actually believe that hardly anyone is going to listen.
Jesus Christ is THE LIGHT. That is what He said. Jesus Christ is also THE TRUTH. He said that as well. The two are the same: The Light and the Truth. But we cannot know the Truth or see the true Light, unless His LIFE IN US becomes more preeminent.
But as I have tried to show – it is so easy to accumulate Bible knowledge and think that this is LIGHT. No. It may be true Bible knowledge, but is it the knowledge of the Truth? – in the way in which the Bible means by that term. The knowledge of the Truth is an experiential knowledge – not of ourselves as the source – but as revealed to us by God through the Holy Spirit. It is the knowledge of a Person. Read I Corinthians. You’ll get my point.
Christianity is CHRIST IN US. It is not merely facts about Christ, knowledge about Christ, or a list of doctrines to believe in about Christ. No. CHRIST IN US. And as CHRIST IN US becomes real, the Truth becomes real – because the Truth is also Jesus.
Thus, we have our conclusion. In order to be enlarged in the LIFE of Christ, we must lose our lives. We must lose our lives to find the life of Christ – by carrying our Cross daily. But if we do that – if we DIE those deaths by surrendering to God – there will come an enlargement of His LIFE in us. And with that LIFE will come LIGHT. The two cannot be separated. In this we see both the cause and the solution for Christian confusion. Come back to the Cross. Come back to the Person.
For as John wrote:
In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. (John 1:4-5)
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